Human rights within states are crucial to security among states. Prioritizing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, defending the principles of liberty, and encouraging tolerance within societies must be at the forefront of America's foreign policy agenda. Peace, security, and prosperity cannot be sustained if national governments repress their citizens, stifle their media, or imprison members of the political opposition. Authoritarian regimes become increasingly unstable as citizens chafe under the bonds of persecution and violence, and pose a danger not only to their citizens, but also to neighboring nations. The Helsinki Commission strives to ensure that the protection of human rights and defense of democratic values are central to U.S. foreign policy; that they are applied consistently in U.S. relations with other countries; that violations of Helsinki provisions are given full consideration in U.S. policymaking; and that the United States holds those who repress their citizens accountable for their actions. This includes battling corruption; protecting the fundamental freedoms of all people, especially those who historically have been persecuted and marginalized; promoting the sustainable management of resources; and balancing national security interests with respect for human rights to achieve long-term positive outcomes rather than short-term gains.
Moldova, a landlocked country of about 3.4 million people located between Romania and Ukraine, is a republic with a parliamentary democracy. While some progress has been made in moving towards the EU, the political situation has been unstable and the country has experienced political crises and the fall of several governments in recent years. Corruption continues to be the country’s most significant problem and remains widespread.
Even prior to Moldova’s 1991 independence from the Soviet Union, Russia-backed separatists declared a “Transdniester Moldovan Republic” (Transnistria) along the eastern border with Ukraine. A 1992 ceasefire agreement established a peacekeeping force of Moldovan, Russian, and Transnistrian units. The central government does not exercise authority in the region, and Transnistrian authorities govern through parallel administrative structures. The human rights and democracy picture in Transnistria is bleak.
The Commission has held several hearings, including with high-ranking Moldovan officials, and a number of briefings addressing democracy, rule of law and security issues in Moldova, including the protracted conflict in Transnistria.
Staff Contact: Michael Cecire, senior policy advisor